Waynesville is the largest city west of Asheville. It is Haywood County’s oldest town and the Haywood County seat, framed by mountain vistas, vast national forest lands and clear, rushing streams. It is also where team square dancing originated in the 1930s.
The Town of Waynesville was founded in 1809 by Colonel Robert Love, a Revolutionary War soldier. He donated land for the courthouse, jail and public square, and named the town after his commander in the war, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. The Town of Waynesville was incorporated in 1871.
For many years visitors have traveled to Waynesville to enjoy the cool clean air, clean water, outstanding scenery and an opportunity to escape the crowded cities.
Although it is a small town, Waynesville is filled with entertainment and culture. Downtown Waynesville is on the National Registry of Historic Places, a vibrant, friendly small downtown located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with nearby access to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Main Street’s tree lined brick sidewalks offer pedestrian access to fine shops, galleries, cafés and restaurants. Historic buildings, relaxing benches, public art, and welcoming folks make Waynesville an enjoyable place to live and visit.
Parks, Museums and Arts Centers
Founded in 1977, The Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts at the Shelton House is a repository and cultural exhibit preserving and displaying traditional crafts by some of the states’ most renowned artisans. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Charleston style farmhouse was built in 1875 for Stephen Jehu Shelton, a Civil War veteran and Haywood County sheriff. Exhibits include period furnishings and antiques, folk art, and collections of pottery, wood carving, basketry, metalwork, weaving, quilting, marquetry and other fine crafts. Open May-October.
The award-winning Haywood Arts Regional Theater features a full schedule of performances. Widely known as one of the finest community theaters in the southeast, the theater presents shows on the main stage at the Shelton House, April through December, and in the Feichter Studio, January through April.
Ten to twelve rotating artists’ exhibits are shown annually at the Haywood County Arts Council’s Gallery 86, a creative showcase on Main Street in the historic downtown. Special music and art events are held there throughout the year.
The town of Waynesville has many parks and greenways that afford visitors and residents alike the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and beatuiful scenery of the area.
Festivals and Events
- On the first Friday each month between May and December, Downtown Waynesville Galleries remain open until 9 pm for “Art After Dark,” with demonstrations, artist receptions, and music.
- Mountain Street Dances enliven downtown Waynesville on four summer Friday nights. Put on your clogging and square dancing shoes and enjoy an old-fashioned mountain hoe down at the historic County Courthouse! Live mountain music, demonstrations and instruction by local clogging teams.
- In July, Waynesville goes international, hosting Folkmoot USA, the State International Festival of North Carolina. This two-week celebration of the world’s cultural heritage through folk music and dance beings with a parade of nationns down Main Street featuring performances, a parade and workshops. Performers demonstrate their cultural heritage through colorful, authentic and original reproduction costumes, lively dance and traditional music.
- On Labor Day Weekend the annual Smoky Mountain Folk Festival, held at Stuart Auditorium at nearby Lake Junaluska, offers two nights of the finest traditional music and dance of the Southern Appalachian Region.
- The Church Street Art and Craft Show is held in October on Main Street in downtown. Now in its 30th year, this event showcases the area’s arts, craft and music heritage.
Tailgate Farmers Markets
The Waynesville Farmers Market is open May through October, held on Wednesday and Saturday mornings on Legion Drive, just off Main Street. Vendors offer fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers grown in Haywood County.
Waynesville is easily accessed from Interstate 40/US 74 on the north, and US 23/74 from the south. Parkway travelers can take the Waynesville exit at Balsam Gap.
Haywood County Visitor Center
44 N Main